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Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council issues 2005/06 report

The Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council (Business Council) today (July 31) issued its second annual report on its work for 2005/06.

On the publication of the annual report, the Chief Executive said he was pleased to note that the Business Council had put forth very constructive views on various major cooperation items related to Hong Kong/Guangdong cooperation. The participation of the private sector was crucial and he looked forward to the continued efforts and contribution made by the Business Council in promoting cooperation between the two places.

Chairman of the Business Council, Dr Victor Fung, said, "Regional economic integration has become a global trend. With a strengthened relationship with the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong should seize the opportunities arising from the new development in Guangdong and put in place relevant measures to cope with the change."

In carrying out its work, the Business Council in the past year maintained a constructive dialogue with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) Guangdong Sub-Council on issues of mutual concern. It has also maintained liaison with the governments of both places and individual provincial cities.

Recent developments like the "11th Five-year Plan" of Guangdong Province, economic restructuring in the province and development of western Pearl River Delta (PRD) have profound implications for Hong Kong. The Business Council has undertaken two studies to help the Hong Kong business community understand more about the impending opportunities and challenges. The two studies are:

1. "Guangdong's Economic Restructuring – Opportunities and Challenges for HK"

Guangdong has embarked on a rigorous economic restructuring programme in recent years, focusing on the upgrading of its industries with an emphasis on heavy and high value-added industries. The province has also expedited and enhanced the development of the services sector. The study recommended that the services sector in Hong Kong could provide support services for these developing heavy and high-tech industries and create business opportunities. Also, Hong Kong's manufacturing industries in the PRD would face more pressure and they need either to upgrade their technology level and adjust their business modes or relocate to more distant areas.

2. "Development of Western PRD and its Prospects of Cooperation with HK"

The Guangdong Government has been actively developing the cities in western PRD in recent years. Sustained efforts have also been made to strengthen the infrastructure of the area. It is envisaged that the region will develop at a high speed. The report suggested that Hong Kong should re-orient its investment direction in western PRD, targeting the priority industries there, and play up its advantages in the services sector to assist private enterprises in western PRD to expand into the international market. Capitalising on the confidence of the Mainland market in Hong Kong brands, Hong Kong's businessmen could set up production in western PRD to explore the domestic market in the Mainland.

Apart from the two studies, the Business Council promoted cooperation between Hong Kong and Guangdong in many areas and the six working sub-groups set up for this purpose have studied a number of topics. They are:

1. Cross-boundary passenger and cargo flow

The Business Council has put forth suggestions to facilitate people and cargo flow. They include discussing with both governments extension of the hours of operation of Sha Tau Kok and Man Kam To Control Points; and establishing a new land boundary crossing at Liantang.

2. Implementation of CEPA

The Business Council recognised that the services and professional sectors still encounter difficulties in accessing the Mainland market, and hoped that the governments of both places could join hands to promote CEPA, enhance the transparency of relevant regulations and streamline application procedures for business operation.

The Business Council also hoped that the Guangdong Government could consider letting Hong Kong's professional sector operate business in the provincial cities on a pilot basis.

3. Joint investment and trade promotion

The Business Council and the CCPIT Guangdong Sub-Council have held seminars and visits to introduce Hong Kong to Guangdong enterprises to keep them up to date on the investment environment and the kind of services available with a view to attracting them to invest in Hong Kong. The Business Council is also considering ways to strengthen support services for Guangdong enterprises operating in Hong Kong.

4. Sustainable Development

The Business Council joined hands with the Business Coalition on the Environment, the CCPIT Guangdong Sub-Council and the Guangdong Environment Protection Industries Association to launch the "Clean Air Charter" in 2005. It aimed to encourage both Hong Kong and local manufacturers in Guangdong to set a good example by taking emission reduction measures voluntarily to improve air quality.

The Business Council is also exploring, with the Environmental Protection Department, proposals to raise the awareness of Hong Kong manufacturers in Guangdong on energy saving, emission reduction and application of clean production technology, through clean production demonstration projects and the provision of technological support.

5. Education and technology

The Business Council suggested that the two sides should enhance communication and exchange of talent in the design sectors in Hong Kong and Guangdong and promote further technological cooperation. The Business Council is also studying cooperation in developing creative industries.

6. Tourism, culture and sports

In the past year, the Business Council studied ways to encourage more tourists to visit Hong Kong in the same trips, and supported the proposal for Hong Kong's travel agencies and operators to expand business operation in the Mainland under the framework of CEPA.

The Business Council is pleased to note that, in the latest round of liberalised measures under CEPA, Hong Kong's travel agencies in Guangdong are permitted to apply to operate outward bound trips to Hong Kong and Macau for Guangdong residents on a pilot basis.

The Business Council was set up in March 2004 with the aim of advising the Chief Executive of the HKSAR on matters related to Hong Kong and Guangdong cooperation. It also provides avenues for the private sectors of both places to exchange ideas and views.

Members of the public could access the website (http://www.cab.gov.hk/en/issues/council_report_0506.htm) for the annual report.

Ends/Monday, July 31, 2006